Opt-Out Fight Reaches Maine; Gates Dumps More Millions Into Common Core

The battle against the Common Core in Maine has taken center stage early this week, with news on a series of bills that seek to weaken the grip that the federally mandated tests have on the state.  LD 695 will put the right that parents have to opt their students out of the test in writing.  LD 1276 will eliminate the “Smarter Balanced” tests that are a derivative of the Common Core and replace it with an exam developed in-state.  Check this out from the Bangor Daily News:

AUGUSTA, Maine — Students, teachers and Common Core opponents on Monday lashed out against the state’s new standardized tests, and they called on lawmakers to eliminate the tests, the standards or both and start fresh.

During a lengthy series of public hearings, the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee heard testimony regarding a series of bills focused on testing, educational standards and proficiency requirements.

LD 695 aims to codify in state statute that parents can opt their children out of standardized tests. This is a right that parents already have — several Supreme Court decisions have said so — but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said she wants that spelled out in statute.

The bill also would require a school to find an alternative “educational activity” for an opt-out student to do while his or her peers are taking the test, and it would prevent the Maine Department of Education from “penalizing” schools for not testing a student.

“At school, we are supposed to learn and have fun while doing so,” said Kyren Bettencourt, an eighth-grader at Gorham Middle School. “I do not feel like a better learner after taking this assessment, and I certainly did not have fun while taking it.”

While school isn’t meant to be fun at all times, there are many who share this student’s sentiments.  Some schools reported that 55% of juniors opted out of taking the tests, while many schools saw reported jumps from all age groups of students across the state of Maine who refused to take the test.  These stories are similar to what we saw last week in Seattle, but lacking the press coverage.

This morning, the Washington Post reported that Bill Gates hasn’t stopped throwing money at his pet project, the Common Core.  Over the past seven months, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have sent $3.7 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and millions more to other organizations to ensure support of the Common Core despite rising opposition from students and parents.  His millions have done absolutely nothing to stop millions of students from opting out of the test, and millions of parents from speaking out against the harm that his pet project has caused students across the country.


-Gabriel Diaz

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